Friday, 13 May 2011

Top 5 Opening Song Lines

I've probably said this before but I'm not the greatest observer of lyrics. The thing that grabs me about a song is the music and in many cases the words are just another element of that sound. However, if I am going to notice what's actually being sung it's usually an opening line, so often the lyric that sets the tone for the song or states the manifesto of the band.

1. Teardrop Explodes "Reward"
"Bless my cotton socks I'm in the news"
Despite my teenage years corresponding closely with the eighties I never really got on with the music of the day. My desire to escape the floppy fringed "girly" bands I detested from Top Of The Pops probably shaped my taste in music from then on. Oddly I now find myself more sentimental for the music I grew up hearing. Reward was always a bit of a cracker though and remains one of my favourite songs. The Trumpets help, in my book Brass can only be a good thing for a popular single.

2. Stiff Little Fingers "Inflammable Material"
“Inflammable material is planted in my head,
it’s a suspect device that’s left 2000 dead”
Other than a brief mention in the film of "High Fidelity", Stiff Little Fingers remain a largely under appreciated punk band. I think they were one of the best original UK punk bands, great live and with a song craft that many others of their era lacked. This is the first line of the first track on their first album. It pretty well defines everything SLF were about.
Dick: In my opinion there are two bands that influenced Green Day...
Anna: The Clash!
Dick: Er, right. The other one, I think, is Stiff Little Fingers. Listen...

*Dick puts on a Stiff Little Fingers song*

Shopper: Is this the new Green Day song?

3. The Sonics "Strychnine"
“Some folks like water, some folks like wine,
but I like the taste of straight Strychnine”
The Sonics helped lay the path for the Punk bands of the late Seventies and early Eighties. Along with their American North-West contempories they also helped create the environment that made the Grunge explosion of the Nineties possible. Released in 1965, "Strychnine" and the debut album from whence it came, were a warning tremor for the eruption of wild rock'n'roll that would follow.

4. The Stooges "Search & Destroy"
"I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm,
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear a-bomb"
One of those direct descendants of The Sonics with lyrics that seem to describe the Stooges irrepressible front man. At 63 he's still capable of causing a stir as his recent appearance on American Idol showed.

5. Warren Zevon "Werewolves of London"
"Saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
walking through the streets of Soho in the rain,
he was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's,
going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein"

This is kind of where I got started with this topic. Talking about the soundtrack for "American Werewolf in London" a few weeks back got me thinking about this song and its opening lyric.

Photo courtesy of Around the World Today

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